Christian Clifton knows that at this stage in his life, as a young man, “confidence should exude outwards like a wave.” Why, then, does he live in such fear?
I lying there still and quiet with the darkness surrounding me , and I would like to say that my mind is at ease. I would rather be asleep, off on some wonderful journey through my subconscious. My eyes scan back and forth in the dark looking for some semblance of comfort in the blacked-out room. There in the stillness that exists in the world long after everyone else has retired and the hours before the sun’s rays pierce the horizon is the place where I find no rest.
Instead I find terror.
I don’t know if it is just my mind succumbing to the lack of distractions or that there is some primal fear of the unknown that comes with darkness but it is these moments that all of the troubles in life come crashing down upon me. They flood my thoughts with such ferocity that I feel my breathing become hastened and burdened; under the surface of their deluge my heart is constricted with panic. Every night feels like it just might be the last; there is no getting used to this assault.
These moments where I lie awake feeling utterly alone, even with my wife only inches from me, bring into focus the true reality of my being. They make it plain to see that fear lurks within me, and no small fear at that, but one with far reaching influence. It seems to pervade every inch of me that I give to it, and at night in my weakest moments it gains ground quickly.
I know how ridiculous these feelings are; how I’m not supposed to be like this. As a young man, with so much life ahead of me, I should be chasing after the world with every ounce of strength I have. My confidence should exude outwards like a wave; overtaking everything in its path, reducing it to dust. I shouldn’t appear as a child, cowering in the night away from the monsters that lurk within the shadows.
As morning approaches I often find myself watching the rays of light creep slowly across the wall, knowing that their movement heralds another day where my fears may become reality. Forcing myself out of bed to ready for the day, I am still afraid but the burdens becomes increasingly easy to bear with distractions of the day pulling my attention away. There are moments throughout the day when I am almost unaware of the fears that only hours before stole my very breath, and I hold onto the as long as I can.
The day comes to an end without spectacular failure or destructive mistakes; this passing makes it much easier to feel capable. On the drive home my spirits rise to new heights, the fears are more at bay than ever. It is easier to fight them off when looking back at a single day.
In those moments of clarity I know that the age old wisdom of “taking it one day at a time” is priceless in its simple truth. I can easily conquer one day without much trouble. The real problems arise only when I forget that advice and try to figure it all out at once.
As the day fades to night I hold onto the hope I felt, wanting it to keep me safe through the night. Intellectually I know it is useless to try to take on all of life in a single moment, I could never hope to win such a struggle. I can recall moments of strength and reassurances of my capabilities; I know that I am not destined to fail.
Once again the lights are all gone and stillness fills the air, my eyelids begin to surrender to sleep, and my mind slows. As my consciousness slips delicately away the last thoughts grow increasingly tense. The fear knows my defenses are down and does everything it can to take hold once again.
Maybe tonight will see my destruction at the claws and teeth of the fear that haunts me. Perhaps tomorrow will see it finally defeated and my mind will be free. Depending on the day I could be equally sure of each outcomes certainty.
I really want the victory to be mine, and I hope it is soon.
photo: elbragon / flickr
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